2023 began with a cyclone heading towards us and all the preparation that goes with ensuring our community are ready for whatever happens. We could literally see the storm coming across the sea and it brought impressive swells, high winds and plenty of rain. What it didn’t bring was any issues we weren’t prepared for, or weren’t able to handle.
It’s an “all hands on deck” situation when wild weather is forecast. It takes our depot team in hi-vis and work boots out in the field clearing grates and culverts. It takes our logistics and data analysis staff looking at forecasts and planning for a number of scenarios all at once. It also takes some help from community to make sure gutters and drains are kept clear and road use is left to essential travel only.
Pulling together for the greater good is a theme at the heart of local government. This is especially important when external forces are influencing our actions and our priorities.
The start of this year symbolised much of what we’ve been through over the past few years and much of what we will meet in 2023 with external influences informing our decision making and our need to pivot and refocus. COVID-19 and its impacts, the labour market, and rising costs of living have all affected our workforce, our work programmes and our priorities, as well as our use of resources.
Heading our way are more changes that we will need to navigate. We will respond in the way we do to environmental impacts: keep strong connections with our community, communicate often with our partners, use the skills and experience we have within our teams, analyse our options, adjust and refocus.
The biggest external impacts on the horizon this year are the reforms affecting local government’s core business. Three Waters Reform, Resource Management Act Reform, Civil Defence Emergency Management Reform and the proposed reforms to local government itself will have large and long-lasting effects on what we do as a council.
Even in the introduction of these there have been significant challenges to our ability to navigate through them. Timing and the time given for consultation have hindered our ability to truly hear the voice of community and share that with central government. There’s been an acceleration in the process that has brought the storm in faster than forecast! We have had to move quickly to respond, and use everything we have to try and mitigate any negative effects for our people and our region. Adapting is our new normal and it has set us up well to manage whatever external forces head our way.
On the bright side, we have a new Chief Executive joining us in March and I am very much looking forward to working with her. Together, we will be looking at what’s heading towards us, at the talent and tools we have in place to manage it, at those integral relationships with mana whenua and other partners, and most importantly with our community.
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